Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mentoring #4: I am not in charge.

(For those of you who are new here, I am a long-distance mentor to my friend Casey Wiegand. And every so often, I write mentoring posts that appear on her blog. This one appeared a few months ago. I like to post them here later, so that I have a record of it in my own space. And for those of you who haven't seen it yet, well then it's new to you!)

I run a pretty tight ship in my house. In fact, I feel like a captain, most days, barking orders, and managing my crew. I can actually get so involved in managing my kids, my kitchen, and my calendar that I convince myself that I am the one in charge. That I am in total control. But the other day, a friend asked me a question that reminded me of the time in my life that truly taught me how NOT in charge I really am.

She asked me, “How did you decide to have only two kids?”

It was in an email. Right away, I smiled at the assumption: that I decided. I'm not faulting her; it's common language among mommies.

"So. Are you guys gonna have more?"
"So. Is this baby your last?"
"So. When are you going to start a family?"

It is all very common language we use with the underlying presumption that we are so in charge. Well, in regards to that email, I knew mine would be a long reply, and not quite what my friend expected. I told her something like this.

My first pregnancy came easily. A couple tries and boom. Pregnant. Which equalled a lot of false reinforcement that I was indeed in charge of myself. So about a year after I had my daughter, we started trying for another. Thinking I was the boss, I decided I wanted my babies to be two years apart.

But it didn’t happen. A few months later, it still didn’t happen. My belief that I was the one in charge started showing cracks, so I powered up. Several months later with no baby, I began to live in 2 week increments: two weeks of anxiety trying to determine when I was fertile, and two weeks of anxiety until I could discover whether or not it “took.” I’m sure some of you have been there. I read books. I feverishly prayed for God to buy into my plans. I went so far as to begin logging my daily waking temperatures in an Excel spreadsheet, and I stressed out if some circumstance messed up the science I had made out of getting pregnant. Still nothing. Nothing, of course, except a crazy, emotional roller coaster and a strain on my marriage.

The structure of belief about my own sovereignty was slowly starting to crumble. It was what needed to happen, but it was also terrifying. What in the world did that mean if I was not in charge? Twelve whole months passed, and so I went to my OBGYN. Unaffected by my shock that I couldn't get pregnant, she wrote me a prescription for a fertility drug and I wanted to dissolve into tears. In retrospect, I think it was less upsetting that I wasn’t pregnant and more upsetting that this season totally blindsided me. I was SO not in charge.

At home, I waved my white flag. I cried out to God and let go of my plans. OK, God. I get it. This is not about me. It is all about you and what you know is best for my family. I only think I know what's best. But you really know. you.

I think God then, perhaps, smiled and said, "Well, it's about time."

You knew it was coming, didn't you? I never had to fill that prescription. Without all the feverish planning and stress, I was suddenly, surprisingly, pregnant. It totally snuck up on me. We named our son Nathan, meaning "gift," knowing full well that he was exactly that. Not a result from our careful planning. He was God's gift. 

For reasons only He knows, up until now, God hasn't chosen to give us any more. And we are content with our two.

Just yesterday, I watched a friend face something unexpected. It was a small, everyday thing, but nonetheless, not what she planned. It was hard to watch because she was completely overwhelmed by it. She had no peace, no trust that someone else was holding her and all her circumstances together. And later that day, I realized her problem. She lives in all-out bondage to the lie that she is the one in charge. Most would call her an overachiever or a little high-strung. I observe that she is regularly stressed, usually exhausted, and void of true joy. Her hands are tightly shut around everything in her life.

This lie of being in control is insidious.
It sounds like, "If I don't make it happen, it won't."
And, "This is all on me."
And, "I don't need help; I can handle it."

It feels like a risky circus act of keeping twenty spinning plates in the air, perfectly balanced. 
Every single day, it feels terrifying, like everything might just come crashing down.
It also feels very, very lonely.

I know because I've been there. I thought I was in charge until God gently broke that lie, and then healed me up with the truth. The power of this lie certainly requires a breaking, and it hurts. But the Lord's correction is always in love. Always. And always with my best interest in mind.

The truth is that He is in charge. He knows what's best. I really, truly do not. I must hold every single thing in my life with open hands. Every plan, wish, relationship, job, goal, talent, possession...everything. None of us can know what tomorrow brings. But all of us can know a supernatural peace, despite our blindness. 

What is holding you back from fully trusting God with your plans? Your dreams? Your babies?

Whatever it is, let it go. Drop the plates. Open your hands. You can do it.

My frequent prayer is,
"Lord, you are God and I am not. May your will, not mine, be done."

He who holds all things together is so worthy of our trust.  



  1. Amen! Beautiful post, Leslie. Have a great weekend:)

  2. Favorite post ever!!! (And on a personal side note, my boys are 8 years apart...we tried for 4 years to get pg with the first...and never "tried" again after that. I always say that #1 was the baby we prayed for and #2 was His special surprise to us. They are 15 and 23 and everyday I see God's wisdom in the timing. They are also VERY CLOSE which you might not imagine with such an age difference. God is good all the time. )

  3. Beautifully written, thanks for sharing.

  4. oh gosh... but why is it so hard?
    i just think to myself, why does God want to bother with me?
    i can just do it on myself.
    i'm used to doing it on my own.
    it's so dumb.
    and such a roller coaster.
    i get bogged down trying to "do it all".
    thanks for sharing this leslie!
    you are awesome and always know how to speak to my kindred spirit heart!

  5. Dear Leslie,

    Thank you for your wisdom and sharing what God has taught you. I know that this is something that I struggle with, although I do try to hide from it at times. Even while I was reading your post, I was thinking that it didn't apply to me. The more I examine my own heart, however, the more that I realize I need his help. I try so hard every day. And it is exhausting. It also steals my joy. It does not allow me to experience the beauty of allowing someone else to help me, or to form deeper relationships through humility. Please keep me in your prayers as I learn to let go and let God take control.


  6. this is one of my all time favorites. so much Truth here.
    my husband and i have four children and would love more, but HE hasn't seen fit(it's been many years).
    so we will be content with our blessings and welcome more if HE so deems.
    thanks for the reminder.

  7. Wow... needed to hear this. Every word. I found myself skimming because of how loud these truthful words are, almost like my mind did not want to hear the words you've written. But then I took a deep breath and went back and reread each word.

    So thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your faith (or rather reminder of what true faithfulness can look like). What a refreshing post in the midst of the chaos of daily life!


  8. I loved this and can SO relate! Thanks for putting it into words. I shared the link to this post on my blog today;)